By Kristen Manouchehri
Lexington Police are buckling down on nighttime seatbelt enforcement.
In an effort to reduce risky nighttime driving, Lexington’s “Click it or Ticket” campaign has big changes coming its way.
Since the project’s inception, seatbelt enforcement has taken place during the daylight hours, a press release said.
From Feb. 14 to March 12, a new program brought forth by the Federal Highway Safety Administration and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety will move enforcement to nighttime hours.
Statistics show more fatal accidents occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. due to impaired driving, reckless driving and speeding, the release said.
“Nighttime drivers and passengers continue to be among those least likely to wear their seatbelts,” Officer Alvin Cook with the Lexington Division of Police said. “Almost 77 percent of accidents that occur at nighttime are unbelted.”
Although it is more difficult to see an unbuckled motorist during evening hours, there are several ways to tell if a motorist is not wearing a seatbelt, Cook said.
The campaign will use a team of observational officers and multiple pursuit vehicles made up of one sergeant and up to six officers.
“In some of the intersections, we’re going to have an officer standing outside of his car — he may be in uniform or in plain clothes,” Cook said. “If he sees a violation, he will radio to the pursuit car giving a description of the driver and the vehicle.”
Motorists caught without seatbelts are not subjected to court costs or driving record infractions but a $25 fine, Cook said.
The campaign will affect highways and urban areas, including downtown and the UK area.
“I think what the Lexington Police are doing is important, but I think they should enforce the speed laws more,” early childhood education junior Emily Kauffmann said. “People 18 and older should be responsible for their own actions. Seatbelts for minors should definitely be mandatory. Does that mean police will start citing buses and taxi cabs?”
Although seatbelt laws have been in effect for the past 10 years, seatbelt enforcement laws have not, Cook said. Until the last few years, motorists could not be pulled over simply for not wearing a seatbelt.
Cook said the enforcement laws are not put in place to penalize people, but to keep them out of harm’s way.
“People pay us for public safety, and it’s to help make you safe,” Cook said.